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car stuck in snow needs recovery

How to Pull a Car Out of Snow Using a Recovery Strap


Recovery straps can be used all year long, but they are especially handy in the winter months, when roadsides become flooded with spun-out vehicles. The best way to get a car out of snow quickly (without the cost of a professional tow truck) is by rigging a recovery strap to a tow hook or recovery point on the vehicle and slowly dragging it out. Between the type of vehicle, weather conditions, and distance from the roadway, there are many variables that make each vehicle recovery situation different.

Use the steps below as a general guideline for how to pull a car out of the snow, but know your limits and never push the capabilities of your vehicle or yourself.

6 Steps for Recovering a Vehicle from Snow Using Recovery Straps

emergency warning triangles

1. Make Yourself Visible to Others

First, take note of what your surroundings look like. Most stuck vehicles are typically found in ditches off roadways, which can mean easier recovery. However, other vehicles on the road may not be able to see you, regardless if it's night or day, putting you and other drivers in a potentially dangerous situation.

Take precautions seriously by making yourself visible as much as possible. Putting on your hazards helps alert other vehicles on the road to slow down near you. Additionally, wearing hi-vis clothing helps incoming traffic identify individuals on the side of the road. People recovering vehicles should also consider getting reflective safety triangles to warn drivers of your presence on the road, creating space for the recovering vehicle to get back on the road.

2. Make the Recover Process as Easy as Possible

Sometimes, stuck vehicles in the snow can get really buried in. Instead of trying to pull it out from this mess, make it easier on your recovery straps and recovery vehicle by shoveling the snow away from the stuck vehicle, including the tires and the undercarriage. You can also put sand or kitty litter under the tires to create some traction and ease the strain on the strap, making the pull a whole lot easier.

3. Secure the Recovery Strap to the Vehicle

Next, attach the strap to the rear of the towing vehicle, somewhere with plenty of structural support like a trailer hitch with steel loops for mounting a tow hook or a shackle. Anchor shackles are one of the best and safest ways to secure a recovery strap. Refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for guidance on safe strap rigging.

Never attach the strap to a trailer hitch ball. This can cause bending and breaking which could result in serious injury. You should also make sure the strap you're using is rated high enough. A good rule of thumb is for the vehicle weight to be half the break strength of the strap.

anchor shackle connected to stuck vehicle with recovery strap 

4. Secure Strap to the Stuck Vehicle

Similarly, you need to attach the other end of the recovery strap to the stuck vehicle. As a reminder, never attach a recovery strap to the bumper, axle, suspension, or steering rods of a vehicle. Pulling on these components causes significant damage to the vehicle as a whole, as they are not made to handle this tension.

Before resorting to hooking onto the frame, check the front bumper for a small square section of the plastic that is removable. Many newer vehicles contain removable tow hooks or towing eyes stored with the car's jack. Insert these components to the identified places on the vehicle and hook the recovery straps on them.

If you're lucky enough to be pulling a vehicle with clearly visible tow hooks, secure the strap to those. Many smaller vehicles and newer model cars don't have the best tow hooks, or they are often hidden. When pulling, lay a tarp or some jackets on top of the strap to slow the recoil of the strap if it were to break.

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5. Reduce Slack, Then Pull Slowly

Once the strap is safely secured, the recovery vehicle should slowly pull forward to reduce strap slack and prevent snapping. Then, with drivers in both vehicles and no people near the strap, the recovery vehicle can start accelerating slowly and gradually. The recovered vehicle should be in gear and once they're moving the driver should apply some gas and steer the vehicle out.

6. Inspect Equipment and Get Home Safe

Pull the car out of the snow and back on drivable land. After that, inspect your recovery strap and all hardware before heading home. Clean the strap when you get home and store it in a dry and cool place.


Why Use Recovery Straps Over Tow Straps?

Make sure to use recovery straps for stuck vehicles and not tow straps. Recovery straps stretch more than tow straps that prevents it from snapping when tugging on the vehicle. Recovery straps also provide a more controlled pull compared to the tow straps. Without getting too scientific, the stored kinetic energy from the strap stretches then recoils back to its natural length. This provides control and prevents the strap from snapping.

Recovery Straps from US Cargo Control

US Cargo Control's heavy-duty recovery straps are designed to make rescuing your vehicle simple and reliable. We offer these products in a variety of lengths, sizes, and plies to accommodate different vehicle types, including:


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For any questions on our towing and auto hauling products, talk with our team experts by dialing (888) 201-9141 or by emailing today.

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